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How to plan content for social media

Planning content for social media has to be the most tedious and frustrating marketing task. Figuring out what will appeal to your audience can be so annoying – one day they’ll love something (and your post will go viral!) but post about it again and… crickets.

Most of us create calendars of information (content) that we’d like to share with our audience. Or, aspire to. But many of us don’t really know where to start.

Having a plan helps us to be efficient, and quite honestly, it makes us look more professional because everything is thought out. (Instead of being thrown together at the last minute.) 

Don’t get me wrong, I sometimes still post on the fly, and admire people who can do so. Sometimes there is a piece of information that must be shared right away!

I know one of the biggest struggles with those who use social media is content planning, so I’m going to share my process with you. Hopefully, this can help someone who is just starting out get into a flow, and find they can create batches of content at once!

This post may contain affiliate links. If you click through the links and make a purchase, I may make a small commission, at no extra cost to you.

Content planning in the beginning

When I first started content planning, I started planning for a month at a time. I took a piece of scrap paper and just wrote down ideas as they came to me. I asked myself, what did I want to share with my audience? What are they looking for?

Two months into content planning, I realized that I needed a better system. I was planning and organized, but it still felt like something was missing.

I was planning for what ‘I’ wanted to show my audience, not what ‘they’ wanted to see. You should be giving them value – what you do/have that can solve their problems.

After carefully thinking it through and doing my research, I found these to be the best method(s) for me. 

Getting content ideas

Start early.

I cannot STRESS how pertinent it is that you give yourself a running start. Planning for the future certainly isn’t easy, and it all seems like guesswork sometimes. However, if you take the stress away from your content, then that’s one less thing you’ll have to worry about. When I’m planning for the month ahead, I usually start mid-month the month before.

Research.

When I’m looking for ideas on what to provide, I do research. Content marketing is giving the people what they want, or giving them a solution to a problem they’re having.. Not posting whatever you feel like posting that day. 

I ask myself, “how will ‘X’ benefit them?” and use that as my foundation. 

So where do I find ideas? Everywhere! 

  • Facebook

I go into my various Facebook groups and I search for my niche or topic and see what questions people ask, or what struggles they are having in their business. I choose a few that I can write a post about that will answer their question/serve a purpose to them. I can then break down that post into tiny bits and have quite a few pieces to post about on my various platforms. 

  • Pinterest

If you go to the search bar in Pinterest, when you click on it you will see a drop-down menu. If you scroll to the bottom you will see a header labeled “trending topics”. This is what is being searched at that moment on Pinterest. Does any of the topics that are currently being searched fit your niche?

  • Quora

Sometimes I’ll go on a questions forum and search for my topic or niche. The search results will populate questions that people have in regards to topics in that niche. 

  • Ask! Or, you can go the old fashioned way and just ask people what they want to see, or what they need help on. This is a great way to know what your target audience is looking for, rather than guessing (or hoping).

Another thing you can do (that I sort of mention above) is take old posts/content and revive them. You can change up your graphics (appeal to a different audience), add to what your first shared, update your previous information (like if there were changes in stats or algorithm, etc.)

Drafting.

After doing all my research I start drafting ideas for each social media platform I’m on. (I create content for FB x3 groups/pages and IG posts plus stories) Each platform requires a different type of post, so I have to adjust. However, you can still use the same information all across.. you just need to make it fit for that platform’s audience. This is also a good time to decide how many times a day you are going to post to each platform, so you know exactly how much content you need to come up with. 

I have a notebook where I write all the ideas of content I’d like to share. I use it as a sort of brain dump, and write everything out with no regard to prettying it up (at this moment.) This process usually takes me a few hours (I’m planning for multiple channels after all.)

When I am done writing out the ideas I’d like to share for the upcoming month, I write out a monthly overview. I do this in Excel and create columns for the date, holidays and events, each of my platforms, my blog, my email list, my website, and notes. (Yes, I’m VERY extensive and organized hahaha.) 

First thing I do is I write down any holidays and/or events happening in the month I’m planning for. This is sort of an easy way to get content, as these days are already planned! So you can create something around the holiday and not have to plan content for that day. (Even though I sometimes do anyway.)

Next I take my ideas from the brain dump I did earlier, and plug it into the spots for each social media channel. I currently only post 1-2 times a day for FB/IG.

Graphics.

Now that I have what I want to post and when I want to post it, I go and create graphics for 90% of my content. Sometimes I don’t need a graphic for what I’m posting on certain days.

I use Canva to create my graphics. Canva provides templates that are sized to each social media platform, and updates it regularly. This is extremely convenient, as you don’t need to figure out what size is the best size for Instagram this week. 

I usually batch this process (create all my graphics at once) so that when it comes time to posting, I am already prepared. This can take a few hours as well. 

Scheduling.

So far I have done some market research, brainstormed my ideas, drafted my calendar, and created my graphics. The next step for me is to schedule my posts!

Currently I am batch scheduling a week at a time. You can also schedule all your content at once. This is a personal preference. I prefer to do it weekly, as I can really sit and plan my captions, or go with the flow of the week.. Or to just leave room to “add” in. If I know I’ll have a busy [few] weeks, then I’ll schedule my posts so that I don’t have to worry about posting for the day, I can just make sure that I do my engagement at some point in time. 

Currently, since majority of my social media involves Facebook & Instagram, I use FB’s Business Suite to schedule my posts. I can schedule to everything that is connected in the business suite… even carousel posts and stories! For FREE! Best part of it all is that it offers you optimal times your audience is online, so you don’t have to guess what time to schedule your post for.

Other schedulers on the market include Planoly; Hootsuite; Tailwind; SmarterQueue; Later; Preview. These are just the ones I am familiar with; however, there are TONS more you can try.

Using schedulers are great time-savers and allow me to focus on other important parts of my business. 

Summary

Content planning can be a pain, but if you have a plan in motion, it can be smooth-sailing. Once you get the “hang” of what you want to do and how you want to do it, you will shorten the time it takes you to plan your content each month. And when you get into a good rhythm, you will be able to plan your content for months in advance (like per quarter!). 

Another thing I’ve noticed is that it is so much easier for me to think of “new” content because my brain is “trained” to break down older posts or revise older content. It has become FUN for me to plan my content and in turn, has allowed me to create better graphics, as well as captions to share with you all! I enjoy that I am able to provide more value for less stress!

Comment below on what you thought about this post, and if you’d also like to share how YOU plan! I’m curious to know if there is an “easier” or more efficient way. I also love to hear other’s processes

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